Dr. Franz Xavier Groll, a retired physician who lived and practiced on Eager Street in downtown Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood, died of pulmonary thrombosis April 2 at Keswick Multi-Care Center. He was 95.
Born in Aalen in Germany, he was the son of a forest manager who was also a gamekeeper.
He grew up at the time of Adolf Hitler's rise and was a member of the German Youth Movement. He studied medicine at the Ruprecht-Karl University of Heidelberg and served in the German army as a combat physician attached to a Panzer division.
Kenneth P. Moore, the executor of his estate, said Dr. Groll told him he witnessed the bombing of Stuttgart and that he had seen action in Italy, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union during World War II.
He was taken captive by U.S. troops in Heidelberg in 1945.
Mr. Moore said that Dr. Groll recalled questioning those who had taken him prisoner about how the American doctors and staff treated casualities with blood supplies.
After the war, Dr. Groll began to study how blood could be supplied throughout Germany.
He found that Dr. John Elliott was giving a lecture in Frankfurt about the U.S. system of donated blood through blood banks.
Dr. Groll became the vice president of the Deutsche Blutspende Dienst, a group that sought to reform the blood bank system in Germany.
He later came to the U.S. to study with Dr. Elliott, the blood plasma expert who was nominated for a Nobel Prize. Dr. Groll later moved to Charlotte, N.C., to work with the Regional Red Cross Blood Center. He also studied urology at Duke University.
He moved to Baltimore in 1958 and established a medical practice on East Eager Street in Mount Vernon. Friends said his practice focused on the city, and he treated numerous neighborhood residents. He also served as a general surgeon at what is now Mercy Medical Center from 1962 to 1999.
A Roman Catholic, he joined St. Ignatius Church that year and was a donor to the parish.
"He had a keen interest in the needs of poor people," said the Rev. William Watters, pastor of St. Ignatius. "Franz was a man of deep faith who was a long-standing parishioner. He was a contributor to numerous projects and helped us buy the St. Ignatius Center on St. Paul Street."
He also supported Mercy Medical Center and the Franciscan Monastery at Folly Quarter in Howard County.
He enjoyed classical music and opera, collected art, and traveled to Mexico.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Ignatius Church, 740 Calvert St.
Survivors include a son, Rolf Juergen Groll-Fahr of Germany; two granddaughters; and a great-granddaughter.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun